“The biggest problem we have, I think, is always getting people in the door,” says local filmmaker Kelly Rundle. “Because we find that most people – not everyone, of course – ... do enjoy our films. With this one, though ... . There’s just something about one-room schools that doesn’t sound very sexy, you know what I mean?”
He may have a point. The latest collaboration between director Kelly Rundle and his wife, co-writer and co-producer Tammy Rundle, is Country School: One Room – One Nation, the third documentary released by the couple’s Moline-based production company Fourth Wall Films. And as the movie is an examination of, and tribute to, the one-room schools that flourished throughout the rural United States in the first half of the 20th Century, “sexy” isn’t exactly the adjective that springs to mind.
Other descriptions, however – including “fascinating,” “insightful,” and “really, really entertaining” – are more than appropriate. Like the pair’s 2004 true-crime doc Villisca: Living with a Mystery and 2007’s Lost Nation: The Ioway, Country School takes an in-depth look at a mostly unknown, or largely forgotten, chapter of American – specifically Midwestern – history. Also like those films, the Rundles’ most recent endeavor delivers a history lesson that is anything but a dry lecture.